5 good things to do in London (and when visitors visit - where do YOU take them?)

My sisters came to stay this weekend - just the three of us - and, to be honest, most of the time we just laughed.

Rachel Redlaw - sisters

We could probably have amused ourselves without even going outdoors ... but why stay in, ha?! 

Friday night, we stayed in yes, and chatted, and ate a big home-made (diet) chicken jalfrezi curry.

Oh and played cards.

We love playing cards in my family: Canasta, 2s and 3s, Beat your Neighbour, German Whist, Knockout Whist, Chase The Queen ... how about you?

But Saturday - we did everything!  (And walked 20k steps whilst we did it).

When I go to new places I actually really enjoy finding out what's good about that local area - not just the big city attractions - and so we stayed local this weekend.

So here's five good things to do in (West) London ... 

1. Kensal Green cemetery

Ok, it sounds a bit macabre, but London's big cemeteries are famous - famous as some of their inhabitants.

There are the 'Magnificent Seven' of London cemeteries including Highgate (Karl Marx), Brompton Cross and Kensal Green with Brunel and 700 other notable figures.

So, to the cemetery .... unexpectedly, from the hectic Harrow Road, you go through the huge gates into Kensal Green cemetery and .... suddenly, peace. 72 unexpected acres of peace. And lots and lots and lots of tombs. Utterly fascinating wandering, looking, finding people, wondering at lives long gone ...

Rachel Redlaw Kensal Green Cemetery
Rachel Redlaw Kensal Green Cemetery
Rachel Redlaw Kensal Green Cemetery

A sense of history and belonging and wonder at lives passed and memories still here.

Oases of calm and reflection, London's cemeteries are well worth a visit.

2. Portobello/Golborne markets

 We walked back down Ladbroke Grove, took a left at Bonchurch Road and right onto the very top end of Portobello.

Time to stop for a coffee and (gluten-free - both my sisters are) delicious salted caramel cake at Pearl & Groove in the sunshine.

(Oh, the sunshine - we weighed up all day if it were hot enough to go to the Serpentine in Hyde Park for outdoor swimming - but the weather was so changeable!)

Refreshed, we turned left onto Golborne Road with its patisseries and antique / junk (your choice!) shops and outdoor market bits and pieces ... and after loving some expensive artwork, we also stumbled upon a pretty rose-print plate that I didn't end up buying (could actually find the stall-holder!) and a 1930's/40's oval mirror that my sister fell in love with and bought for £12.

Oh and we stopped at Garcia supermarket on Portobello for some Spanish goodies.

(I was hoping to also make it to my fave Thai supermarket ... but we ran out of time this time).

3. Street food

Acklam Market - off Portobello. Food stalls and live music Saturdays and Sundays.

Hang out all day!

Tempted by the Vietnamese banh mi but in the end we shared a large portion of paella in the end (and it was more than enough for three). Don't just stay the Notting Hill end of Portobello - do come down to see  Acklam Road and on to Golborne.

I didn't take a photo - we devoured it too fast!

4. The Serpentine Lido

And ... we did it.

Yep, we went to the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park ... there's a cafe/bar next door but once you go into the changing rooms for the Lido (around the walls are old photos of people enjoying the Lido in long, long ago times) you are pretty much unseen. 

Yes, it's cold when you get in (bracing, we like to say in the UK). Yes, you share the water with ducks and swans. And no, you can't see to the bottom of the murky water.

But is it magical? YES.

Rachel Redlawe Serpentine Lido
Rachel Redlawe Serpentine Lido

Outdoor swimming and this feeling of being part of history. You lie back and look towards the bridge and recall the photos in the changing rooms and feel part of history - in this spot so many have swum and will swim and right now it's you. Wonderful.

5. Authentic best tapas in London (in my opinion)

One of my favourite restaurants is Galicia on Portobello Road. Local neighbourhood stalwart, family run, and always busy - and always great food. Honestly, you could be in Spain. Great food and drink and service. I've been coming for over 20 years - and many more to come.

Oh, and I ALWAYS break the diet when here to have bread to scoop up all the delicious sauces. We had padron peppers, garlic chicken, incredible garlic prawns, mixed salad, anchovies, patatas bravas ... and more I can't remember. Yes, and Rioja).

Rachel Redlaw tapas
Rachel Redlaw tapas
Rachel Redlaw tapas

Oh, two more top tips for my don't-miss London attractions?

1. Dennis Severs' House.

The BEST. Just visit. Please. You can't imagine how good. All the info HERE.


2. The Tiniest Thai

My monthly supperclub seats just four guests, right here at The Tiniest Thai Restaurant in London. Message me for details if you're interested in coming to one!

And ... I'd love to hear YOUR local favourites ... where would you take your weekend visitors?